UAE 'repressive environment' complicating COP28 activism: Amnesty
Restrictions on speech and protest in the United Arab Emirates are complicating UN approval of an Amnesty event at COP28 demanding the release of Emirati political prisoners, the group's secretary-general said Tuesday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Dubai, Agnes Callamard said the obstacles hampering activist actions within a UN-managed Blue Zone at the COP venue are slightly larger than previous years despite no changes to the guidelines.
"The UN has been trying to find ways for us to do our actions. It is taking a lot of steps and negotiations... but it is working within an environment that is making them... much more complicated," Callamard told reporters at the COP28 venue.
In previous years, "the obstacles we confronted may have been a bit less", she said, adding "the number of negotiations and hurdles to me indicate that the interpretation of the (UN) rules are largely driven by the (UAE) environment in which we operate".
Responding to Callamard's comments, the UAE's COP28 team said applications for Blue Zone actions were reviewed "exclusively" by the UN.
Amnesty and Human Rights Watch accuse the UAE of jailing 64 Emirati political prisoners, including rights activists, many of whom authorities allege have links to outlawed groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.